Top bands and activities as festival hits high note

Acrobats Moses Opiyo and Francis Odongo show off their skills to Let's Circus visitors during the festival. Picture by Dave Foster
Acrobats Moses Opiyo and Francis Odongo show off their skills to Let's Circus visitors during the festival. Picture by Dave Foster

More than 4,000 visitors flocked to the 2016 Holy Island Festival at the weekend for an extravaganza of music, dance, circus and traditional crafts.

The music programme had a distinctly North-East theme with folk, jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass and country played by local musicians.

Three-year-old holidaymaker Poppy Maeer, from Leeds, gets the tiger treatment from face-painter Julie Charlton. Picture by Dave Foster

Three-year-old holidaymaker Poppy Maeer, from Leeds, gets the tiger treatment from face-painter Julie Charlton. Picture by Dave Foster

The two headline acts – the Lindisfarne Story Band and The Unthanks – played to packed houses in the island’s new £1million village hall and St Mary’s Church respectively.

The Lindisfarne Story Band featured original Lindisfarne drummer Ray Laidlaw as well as Billy Mitchell who joined the band later. They played the whole of Lindisfarne’s number-one album Fog on the Tyne as well as other big hits, rounding off with a resounding Run for Home.

Their show christened the new Crossman Hall which has replaced the old village hall the band used to rehearse in back in the early 1970s.

They never played professionally on the island until now, although they did an informal gig to celebrate the ninth birthday of islander Debbie Luke back and the festival saw Ray Laidlaw meet up with her and her brother Kyle again.

The Unthanks after the show. From left, Becky Unthank, Tracy Whitwell, Rachel Unthank, Ray Jackson and Don Gilet.

The Unthanks after the show. From left, Becky Unthank, Tracy Whitwell, Rachel Unthank, Ray Jackson and Don Gilet.

Ray said: “Fog on the Tyne was born on Holy Island so it was fantastic to bring it back home and complete the circle.”

The Unthanks, who earlier on Sunday gave a singing workshop to delighted island visitors and residents, enthralled the audience with their distinctive vocals, performing traditional songs and numbers written by the band before rounding off with a spirited clog dance.

In the audience were former Lindisfarne member Ray Jackson, actor Don Gilet, who starred in the Newcastle-set detective series 55 Degrees North, and his partner, Tyneside actress and writer Tracy Whitwell, who caught up with sisters Becky and Rachel Unthank, originally from Ryton, after the show.

Rachel said: “It was wonderful performing in that beautiful building on Holy Island which is such a magic place.”

Ray Laidlaw with Debbie Luke and her brother Kyle Luke, who runs the Crown and Anchor pub on Holy Island.

Ray Laidlaw with Debbie Luke and her brother Kyle Luke, who runs the Crown and Anchor pub on Holy Island.

During Saturday and Sunday, youngsters had a ball at workshops run by Newcastle-based Let’s Circus.

Running alongside the Holy Island Festival, around 4,000 people enjoyed a range of heritage demonstrations highlighting our cultural past, including open pottery firing, spoon whittling and medieval herbalism as part of the first Peregrini Lindisfarne Heritage Festival. There was also face-painting and a guided geological ramble by Dr Ian Kille.

Earlier this year, Peregrini landscape photography classes helped develop the skills of amateur photographers; the photographic exhibition saw nearly 450 people vote for their favourite photograph, the results of which will be advertised soon.

Anyone interested in getting involved in Peregrini Lindisfarne can email David Suggett at david.suggett@northumberland.gov.uk or call the Peregrini office on 01668 213086.

Duke Loopin entertains festival goers with his bullwhip display. Picture by Dave Foster

Duke Loopin entertains festival goers with his bullwhip display. Picture by Dave Foster

The Unthanks performing at St Marys Church.

The Unthanks performing at St Marys Church.

The Lindisfarne Story Band perform at the island's festival. Picture by Dave Foster

The Lindisfarne Story Band perform at the island's festival. Picture by Dave Foster

Tom Mitchell entertains the crowds at the 2016 festival. Picture by Dave Foster

Tom Mitchell entertains the crowds at the 2016 festival. Picture by Dave Foster